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Sail Date: July 2015
First Time Cruise; 40th Anniversary Celebration. With nothing to compare to, these opinions are based on a comparison to the views of others on Cruise Critic, as well as a comparison to the marketing of Holland America itself. Food: ... Read More
First Time Cruise; 40th Anniversary Celebration. With nothing to compare to, these opinions are based on a comparison to the views of others on Cruise Critic, as well as a comparison to the marketing of Holland America itself. Food: C+. Pinnacle Grill was a memorable, and clearly, higher end dining experience. Main Dining Room (Vista) was good quality and selection, but nothing rising to “The Best ___ I Ever Ate” level. LIDO buffet was on par with mid-range Las Vegas buffets; average quality, below expectation deserts and sub-par coffee. In-room service was good. Service: B+. Although the staff exhibited the traditional “smiles all around”, it was clearly part of the Designed Experience. The actual service was good, but the customer service phone line was never answered in less than a two minute on-hold time for the entire voyage. Nightly towel animals were a nice touch. Activities: B-. If the activities were eliminated which promote any kind of additional cost items, not much would be left. The trip included three days at sea, and this meant that they were long days with limited activity available to those who did not want to shop. Communications: A-. The daily activity plan was distributed each night (along with Junk Mail and Advertising). The Cruise Director and Master kept the passengers up to date on the fight against norovirus. Logistics: A-. Embarkation and Disembarkation went surprisingly smoothly. The Anchorage airport representatives were a bit confused as to meeting points and times, but this was resolved by asking better questions to other reps. The pre-printed Cruise Card indicated assigned seating for meals, when Open Seating was booked…this was corrected the first night. Health: D. Norovirus was active from Day 3 until the end. The isolation procedures appeared to favor non-revenue activities, such as the LIDO. The casino never closed or required gloves. The spa demonstration person used the same rubbing device on every customer without any protection or attempt to sanitize. Value: The Explore4 package was offered at booking, and, exclusive of that, the value would have been poor. As it was, considering the restricted view of the stateroom, limited activities offered, the value was “acceptable” at the very best. Experience: The trip was the first cruise, and was to be a Grand Celebration. But, where Acceptable Value meets disappointment (noro), the resulting overall experience was less than expected. Recommendations: Get on the first bus out of Anchorage, and you will arrive on the ship before the land-tour rail arrives, and have the ship, all quiet, and to yourself, for a few hours. Since we flew from the East Coast of the USA, we bookended the trip with overnight stays in Anchorage and Vancouver; which was good for travel fatigue impact. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2015
We enjoyed our cruise and would recommend the ship. It is older as others have mentioned but the food and service are very good. People do care about making you happy. I do have a few comments: 1. Vista fixed time seating is great ... Read More
We enjoyed our cruise and would recommend the ship. It is older as others have mentioned but the food and service are very good. People do care about making you happy. I do have a few comments: 1. Vista fixed time seating is great with great service. Open seating is less attentive. 2. HAL club really isn't for kids under 5. They have almost no toys and the activities are not that entertaining for those under 5. Also, they are very strict on the potty training so keep that in mind. Also the teenage area with video games was closed. 3. The entertainment was good. We enjoyed the Piano Man and Blues Club. 4. The Boat spends too little time in Ketchikan which is very disappointing. CELEBRITY arrived before us and left after us and still got to Vancouver before us. HOLLAND should adjust the schedule. 5. Holland does not advertise enough of the activities and excursions in the Seward area. We liked that area and Alyeska better than Denali. 6. The excursion people are not as knowledgeable as you would want. Make sure you book your excursions within the first 24 hours and adjust after that. Things fill up quickly. 7. The suites with verandah are very spacious. We loved our room. 8. As an aside the 4th of July celebration was disappointing. There really wasn't one. They could have at least had a band. Also, they were not prepared for how many people would want hamburgers. This cruise is for an older crowd but we had a great time. Alaska is beautiful. This was our second Holland cruise and I am sure we will do another one but maybe when our son is older. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2014
One main reason that we chose Holland America was the highly touted Culinary Arts program. We attended the first cooking demo and noted that the hostess, Nikki, did not mention or try to "sell" any of the for-purchase cooking ... Read More
One main reason that we chose Holland America was the highly touted Culinary Arts program. We attended the first cooking demo and noted that the hostess, Nikki, did not mention or try to "sell" any of the for-purchase cooking classes. We signed up for the class on Wednesday, only to be notified the next day that the class was cancelled due to low registration. On Saturday we showed up for the cooking demo at 9:00 am. At 9:10 a staff person wandered in and told us that the class was cancelled because Nikki was sick. The recipe exchange at 10:00 was nothing more than a staff person laying recipes on a table for us to pick up. At 11:00, we showed up to attend a seafood demo with a wine reduction. The Indian chef came out and demoed lamb chops with a carrot dessert - not what we came to see. He did not even bring recipes to hand out. The whole approach to this program was very disappointing. It left us feeling like Holland America is not committed to its programs. Given that this is a big reason that we chose this cruise we would probably try another cruise line next time. We travelled with another couple and received a dinner each at the Pinnacle restaurant. Upon checkin, at 7:20 pm and without our luggage, we were told that our reservation was for 8:00 that night. We had been traveling for 11 hours from Denali . After speaking with the restaurant manager we were "wait listed" for our free dinner. An opening never materialized and all we were offered from the manager was an apology. He made no attempt at all to compensate us or accommodate us in any way. My overall impression of Holland America is that they advertise and oversell programs knowing that they cannot meet the demand. It is simply a sales pitch to get you to choose their cruise line over a competitors'. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2014
I have been on one previous Alaska cruise (a different cruise line) and one previous HAL cruise, on the Veendam. The Oosterdam seemed like a training ship for staff and crew not ready to actually serve clients. My experience with the bad ... Read More
I have been on one previous Alaska cruise (a different cruise line) and one previous HAL cruise, on the Veendam. The Oosterdam seemed like a training ship for staff and crew not ready to actually serve clients. My experience with the bad HAL website put me on notice to be sure to verify, verify, every arrangement. My friends and I booked spa appointments and excursions on line, as HAL encourages its passengers to do, but the repeated requirements to log in, log in again, and inability to toggle from one page to another, was silly. When I spoke to HAL representatives on the telephone, asking my specific questions, I seemed to stymie the telephone agents every time. They put me on hold, they’d inquire, and their answers seemed tentative and unreliable. I’d call back again the next day, go through the same routine, and sometimes was given different answers. Back to the Oosterdam: The hard sell on everything from wine to spa appointment was obvious and annoying.Our so-called wine steward at dinner, was there to sell, not to advise. She had no expertise on wines other than what the packages cost. She overfilled our wine glasses too much and too frequently, even when we asked her not to, obviously so that she could sell more wine. In the pool area, within five minutes at least 3 waiters would come by and interrupt, asking if we wanted to order more drinks (our glasses were still almost full). This was not being attentive; this was relentless selling. I found the English-speaking skills of the crew not up to snuff—certainly not compared to my previous cruise experience. Most requests that I made had to be repeated several times, with accompanying hand gestures. I inquired at the beginning of the cruise about a Jewish religious service to be held on Friday night. I was assured at the front desk that there was a service leader arranged for (which I had not expected). There was no leader. The room provided for the gathering had blaring music piped in from a neighboring bar area. On behalf of the others, I had to leave to find a porter and through hand-gestures and limited English, asked him to turn off the music in that meeting room. Our spa appointments, the same ones I’d verified on line and on the telephone before the cruise, were mixed up and had to be sorted out. Mistakes can happen, but the spa desk attendants were surly even though I showed them our printed reservations. Their correcting of the errors “in the system” were made grudgingly. I sent one item of clothing out for expedited dry cleaning service. I gave it to my cabin steward one evening, to be returned by 5pm the following day. The item was not returned, and I made three phone calls between 5pm and 10pm. No one knew where the item was. The laundry manager tried to use the excuse that the laundry machines had all been busy on that “at sea” day—then I pointed out that this was not laundry but dry cleaning. By the end of the night, she told me that she was sure the cabin steward would return it to me the next morning. I asked her to note that he should not bring them to me before 8:00 am—I repeated that, and she agreed. What time did the cabin steward knock on my door the next morning? 6:40 am! Two different managers called me later that day to apologize, which was appreciated. Each of them offered to reverse the charge for the dry cleaned item. I thanked each of them. When I received my bill, the charge had not been reversed by either of them. These incidents were small but irritating and, I feel there was a clear pattern of miscommunication, issues falling through the cracks, and poor training, that seemed to match the website experience, and the telephone agents as well. We thought the dinner food to be of excellent quality. The Canaletto dining experience was superb—far exceeding my expectations. The breakfast and lunch food at the Lido buffet was okay.. By the last two days of the cruise, the buffet was running out of fresh fruit, the yogurts had gone bad, and some of the vegetables for omelets and salads had turned brown.. Someone told me that the provisions were put on the ship in Vancouver, starting with the northbound voyage, and probably nothing fresh could be added in Anchorage for the southbound trips. True or not, towards the end of our southbound cruise, the breakfast and lunch food was on its last legs. The Oosterdam needs repairs. On two different days I saw buckets in corridors, put there to catch drips from the ceiling. Walls are scuffed. My cabin’s toilet seat was deeply stained. It wasn’t dirty—let’s just call it off-putting. The cruise director, Ross, was excellent—just the right blend of enthusiasm, professionalism, and friendliness. The embarkation and disembarkation processes were flawless. I would sail on HAL again, but not on the Oosterdam.   Read Less
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