I need to express what a complete disappointment our first (and last) Holland America cruise was on the Eurodam. We just returned from a seven day voyage from December 17-24, 2011. We had eleven people in our party, and my husband, my 18 year old son and myself in our room--which was a superior verandah.
The good: the food was for the most part, delicious. The balconies were large, and had comfortable seating. .
The bad: Where to start? The first day, I couldn't find our cabin steward. I called the front desk, and they said they would page him to come to our room. I waited for about two hours, and he still never showed up. Finally, that evening I met him, but to this day still don't know his name. His nametag didn't have it on it, and there was definitely a language barrier between us.
The language barrier continued when we went the Explorers CafÃ© to buy a beverage card. The person behind the counter either couldn't understand us, or didn't listen. We asked for two $50 cards. She sold us a $250 card, which I declined to purchase. She had to credit our account, and then sold us what I asked for, after she had to call her manager, to find out how to issue a credit.
On HAL they are big on the word, "unfortunately." This doesn't bode well with me. I want to hear, of course, yes we can... When staff members don't know something, instead of finding out, they make something up. As customers, we rely on their "expertise," but after a few times getting burnt, we realized that there wasn't any expertise...not even from mangers. That was VERY disappointing.
We also went to sign up for cooking classes on the first day. When I called the front desk, they told me to go to the culinary center. My sister-in-law, her son, and I went down there at 12:30 pm., and we were told to come back at 2:00 pm., which we did. Well, that's not where you sign up for classes, it's at the front desk. Since we waited, we were shut out of the class that we really wanted, and I got to hear "unfortunately."
A note about the culinary center: The entire time the chef was cooking, he kept talking about how he had to scrounge around to procure the ingredients for his demonstrations; from the dining rooms, room service, etc. It wasn't equipped with the utensils that he wanted to use, and there was a lot of "making due" with what he could find. If I was with the Food and Wine magazine, I would hesitate to put my name alongside of the culinary center, as a sponsor.
One night, my son ordered room service, and it didn't come for 3.5 hours. We called after an hour, and the room service representative told us it was on the way. After 2.5 hours, my son called and cancelled the order, and then it arrived an hour later. Really....does it take that long?
On Christmas day, we went to high tea in the Tamarind, and were basically ignored by the servers. We watched as tables turned over before we were served, after my brother went and said something to the manager.
Here's the kicker...my husband and I were celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary, and went for the vow renewal package. The first day, when we signed up for our cooking class (which was cooking breakfast) at the front desk, the front desk clerk asked me how I would like our names on the certificate, which would be signed by the captain. Our last name is a bit tricky, so I wrote out both our first and last names. First off, they couldn't tell me when the ceremony would be; and when they did, it was at the same time that we had dinner reservations in the Pinnacle Grille. So they changed it to the second sea day at 6:00 pm., and the day before we came back to Ft. Lauderdale. When we got our certificate, my husband's name was misspelled. His name is Joe, and they spelled it, Jo. When I said something to the party planner, she said it was too late to have the captain re-sign it, so we'd have to keep what we had.
The ugly: Day three, my son, and some of his new friends were on the lido deck, and there was a drunk young man (underage) in the hot tub. He was with other people, so my son's group continued on with what they were doing (eating). When they left the lido deck and got in the elevator, this drunk 16 year old, got in the elevator with them, and started pushing buttons. My son wanted to get off, and get someone from security to help, so he was on his way down to deck one. The drunk kid was belligerent, and so my son got off on two to walk down the flight of stairs. The drunk kid followed him, and punched him in the face. Security did very little, and told the kids to work it out. The mother of the young man, promised to keep her son in their cabin for the duration of the trip....but she didn't. For the rest of the cruise, my son had a black eye.
From what we saw, there was a lot of underage drinking on the ship. Parents didn't really control their children, and seemed glad that they were allowed to run around, and do whatever they chose to do. A ship is for the most part, as safe place for kids to roam, but not when they are drinking. The bartenders were clearly serving drinks to anyone who had the money (or card) to buy them, and security turned a blind eye on this problem.
And finally, the cookbook fiasco. While on board, I bought three cookbooks. There is a discount of about $20 if you buy three at once. I also had a coupon that HAL gave us in their coupon book for 10% off of the cookbooks. When I tried to use their coupon that didn't have any restrictions on it, I was told "no" that I couldn't use it, it was per cookbooks. When I showed the coupon to the girl in the Explorations Cafe that the coupons said "Cookbook(s)" which meants more than one, she all of a sudden didn't understand what I was saying. I bought it in the Explorations cafÃ©, and didn't want to argue with the same girl who sold us the wrong beverage card on the first day, so I went to the front desk. "Jane" was the manager, and she had me bring her three different coupons for the cookbooks. She promised me the discount would show up on our final bill--but it didn't. We're talking $7 here--it's a lot of aggravation for $7. HAL shouldn't issue coupons and hand them out if they don't want customers to use them.
The bottom line is that the cruise ship is nice, food delicious, but there are too many issues with the staff. And to use the HAL word, "unfortunately" as cruisers, we have to constantly deal with the staff, who for the most part, shouldn't be there, or they should have better training before assuming their roles. It's not okay to make something up, because you don't have the right answer, etc. There is a huge language barrier in terms of English, and they aren't empowered to make any decisions. We had "My time" dinning, and that worked if we would have dinner when they could fit us in. It was okay, if we could do it on their time...not ours.
I'm sure that some of the cruisers on our trip, wouldn't recognize that we were on the same voyage....and I hope that's the case. We spent a lot of money for our vacation, and expected the same experience that we've had with other cruise lines. That didn't happen.
We've been on several cruises prior to HAL, and I don't want to have a vacation that causes us this much aggravation. It's like HAL is the bottom feeder of cruise lines. Never again.