Our 7 day Alaska cruise started out smoothly - easy embarkation - very pleasant and efficient young man - from there it went gradually downhill.
Our cabin stewart, as usual, was extremely pleasant and efficient; we had no complaints whatsoever with him (them - actually there were two).
We had breakfast delivered to our stateroom - deluxe verhanda, as usual. The first day everything was fine; the second day, much of the food was cold. O.K., no big deal, we decided to start having breakfast in the Lido.
The weather was cold and rainy (pouring) every day - of course those are the chances one takes when heading for Alaska, so we can't find fault with HAL for weather - LOL. We did not sign up for shore excurions, many of which did not take place due to the weather (or at least, if they did, many folks chose to cancel). We felt the prices of the excursions were extremely high, and the ports of call not all that interesting - at least not in the pouring rain.
For the first time in all our years of cruising with Holland America, we noticed that the ship was over run with children of all ages - many wandered about the ship without a parent (including helping themselves to food at the Lido buffet, while no parents were in sight - and we were not supposed to serve ourselves the fist two days, for sanitary reasons).
The pool and hot tubs were spilling over with very loud, active, 'pre-teens' who just took over the place runnning, jummping, diving, etc. contary to posted rules, and yet none of the ship's staff saw fit to correct the situation - again, where were the parents? We love kids and have many grandchildren, but these behaviors were unacceptable and shocking to us.
For the first time ever, we signed up for 'open dining' - never again !! The service was slow and the attitude was one of 'I really don't care'....in fact, our salads never arrived one evening, and no attempt was made to correct the omission. We miss having our own waiters every night, who have always been wonderful on past cruises - we will NEVER again even consider open dining - in fact, one night we were told we couldn't be seated since it was 'Master Chef' night and you had to be seated at either 5:15 or 8 PM - that was news to us, so we reluctantly ate at the Lido, dodging kids running around and folks dressed like they were attending a baseball game (t-shirts, jeans, baseball caps (backwards of course) - even on 'formal' nights!
The crowning blow was when we went to the casino to kill a few minutes before the 8 PM show and my card would not work in the slot machine. I asked for assistance, since I knew I had in excess of $20 on the card (I had played around 4:30 PM and cashed out to my cruise card, so I had an idea of how much should be on it). A 'gentleman' from the casino came over and in no uncertain terms told me that I had just lost $27 on a particular machine (he pointed at the machine) at 6:30 PM - I was shocked - we had just walked in (it was about 7:30 - 7:45 PM) since we had dinner from 6:15 - 7:30PM. I told him that wasn't possible, but he wouldn't back down - all but calling me a liar. Is this how they treat 3 star Mariners? We are retired professional people who are not accustomed to being spoken to in this manner. After almost 30 minutes, the matter was resolved, and they paid me $24.50, the amount that was on my card. My husband said 'just let it go', but by that time I was livid.
The two memorable events on this otherwise disasterous cruise, were our visit to the Hubbard Glacier - just spectacular - we were able to get in really close; and our trip to the Pinnacle Grill, which was fabulous in every respect.
We have dined at the Pinnacle before (on another ship) and were impressed, so we booked this on line prior to our check-in, and they lived up to our expectations.
The entertainment was decent, especially the comic, Kevin, who kept everyone in stitches whenever he appeared. The young man playing the guitar in the Crows' Nest was a delight - very talented. The string quartet, although we only walked past them several times, seemed to be uninvolved in their music and with each other - the only time they dressed appropriately was on one of the formal nights. We've seen and heard string quartets on other ships and believe me, this one was a disappointment, at least for me.
There were many first time cruisers on this particular cruise, and they seemed to be pleased (the price was right, that's for sure). This ship needs some tender loving attention, it's showing wear and tear and seemed a bit worn and 'tired'; and the open dining staff need to training in service and attitude from the 'fixed dining' staff.