We booked this cruise with 2 other couples to celebrate 2 Birthdays and for the itinerary which included 4 port days. This is our 7th cruise on Holland America. We had praised up our previous cruises and the quality of service, cuisine ... Read More
We booked this cruise with 2 other couples to celebrate 2 Birthdays and for the itinerary which included 4 port days. This is our 7th cruise on Holland America. We had praised up our previous cruises and the quality of service, cuisine and attention to detail with our friends. It soon became apparent, that this cruise was not going to compare in any way with our previous experiences.
The Oosterdam was in very good shape in all the common areas having recently undergone a refurbishment. Many of the hard working staff we encountered were very pleasant and smiling. We met many wonderful folks on the cruise, but sadly, most of our conversations were regarding this cruise compared to others. The ports of call were wonderful, providing lots to see and do and wonderful beach time! We enjoyed the ports and the time spent with our friends.
It began at embark/check-in. As we entered the port area, there was a gentleman "hearding" people thru the line calling out "Passports!!! Get your passports out" As we approached him, he hollered at me "Where is your passport?" I explained that we held Enhanced licenses from the state of Vermont. We were pulled from the line. He then proceeded to tell us that we couldn't sail that day without a passport. I explained to him that I had called Seattle and researched the website and that we could indeed travel with an enhanced license and a Birth Certificate if needed. He then let us back in line. Our friends had also stepped aside to wait for us. We proceeded to check in where the woman never asked for our BC or wanted them even when I offered them. We checked in and proceeded to board and were told our staterooms were ready.
All 3 couples had inside staterooms side by side- 8125, 8129 and 8133. We went to the cabins to leave off the items we had carried on board. I went into the bathroom and found numerous hairs on the vanity and floor and upon leaving the bath, saw and empty water bottle under the edge of the closet. Since we were meeting the others for lunch, we proceeded to the Lido deciding to try and talk with our cabin steward later. Upon meeting up with our friends, we learned their bathroom had also not been cleaned sufficiently. They had to ask their steward twice to clean the bathroom. We actually had to leave a note for our steward as we never saw them for the first 2 days- that our bathroom needed to be cleaned and the cabin vacuumed as we found nail clippings, hair and other small objects on the carpet. We also had a remote for the TV that was difficult to use due to worn buttons, but as we never saw the steward, it was impossible to get it replaced. We had ordered a gallon of distilled water for my husband's bi-pap machine and that also wasn't delivered.
During the course of the week I was called down to Guest Relations 4 times for issues with my Birth Certificate information which no one wanted to see when we checked in. I was denied getting off the ship the first day in Key West and had to take my ID to Guest Relations before disembarking. They then said that when I returned to the ship that afternoon, I had to come back with my BC! Which I did. However, I was summoned 3 more times to Guest Services regarding my BC.
$25 beverage cards we were all "comped" never were activated. We had to go to GR and have them activated, then they still didn't work. When I returned to GR, they said it did work and a drink had been charged to it. However, that same drink had also been charged to our cabin. For the duration of the cruise, every attempt to use the beverage card was denied.
Tall tropical drinks were served without straws. If pressed, the bar staff would finally give you a straw cut in half. Bar staff coverage in the Sea View pool / bar area was almost non-existent. They seemed to cater to the smoking crowd on one side of the pool - who also had all the very nice comfortable chairs for lounging, cards and reading. If we wanted to order a drink you had to stand and wave a server over, and then it could be up to a half hour before they returned. They were not familiar with the bar menu in regards to non-alcoholic drinks, but if you ordered the daily special or a beer, they knew those. I ordered the same exact non-alcoholic drink 3 different days and got a different drink each time. Only the first one was as described in the bar menu.
Entertainment: one of the biggest disappointments. Our previous HAL cruises had wonderful, quality shows, and entertainment. This cruise had one musical show that actually played 2 nights, a comedian whose show lasted all of 45 minutes and he played entirely off the first row of the audience, and didn't seem to have an act other than that. There was a magician who also had a short show. One evening was actually BBC photos shown on a screen along with the orchestra type music. BB King's was always packed as there wasn't much else going on. Their sets were short with frequent breaks. The dueling pianos were stuck in the hallway next to the Casino and very loud. The male singer/player was OK, but the woman singer was definitely not the caliber of entertainers we had seen previously. We miss the other piano bar. There really wasn't much to do in the evenings, the casino games were not as plentiful or entertaining, no place to dance, no Karaoke or guest involved activities such as games etc. No pool games during the day. We did appreciate the movies in the cabin, as this is the first cruise we have spent any amount of time in there! Normally there is so much going on, we just shower, change and sleep there. Years ago, they did away with the Hal Cats- the live music at the pools, but last cruise they did have a steel drum player. This cruise nothing. There was some DJ played music during sail aways, and on St. Patrick's Day, but not the same atmosphere at all.
My husband did attend the Windows Workshops which he enjoys, but he was very disappointed to find the last one (that we came back from Half Moon Cay early for) was cancelled. No notice, just a hand written sign on the door when he got there.
We were very disappointed that the Sea View Aft pool is no longer Adult only! The pool and the hot tubs were crowded with kids even though the signage stated children needed to be accompanied by and adult. They weren't! Young boys were throwing a Nerf football and running and jumping, splashing and such every day. Small children were in the pool with arm floaties on with no adult with them. We asked several times for ship staff to do something, but they just shrugged their shoulders and did nothing.
We seldom ate in the Lido- the different stations mostly featured ethnic food choices, other than deli sandwiches and the salad bar, not much for american cuisine. We actually felt like we were a minority in this area! Sushi, Thai, Chinese, etc. There was always a long line for the ice cream station, and our friends stated that on other cruise lines, it is set up differently so it doesn't cause a clog in the Lido line movement. We noticed a distinct difference in the menu offerings in the main dining room as well. The line for the Dive In hamburger stand was extremely long, but we attributed this to the large number of children onboard -225 we were told. Though we cruise this same week every time, we have never encountered this many children on board our cruises. The ship doesn't have all the water slides, and bells and whistles other kid-friendly ships have, so I'm sure the kids were bored as well.
We had originally had fixed dining at 8 p.m. some of our party didn't want to eat that late so approx a month before sailing I called Seattle and relinquished our fixed seating and they assured me we could make dinner reservations "at any time". They advised we make 2 days at a time, as we boarded. As soon as we were in our cabin, we called to make dinner reservations for 7:00 p.m.. We were told that reservations were only for 5:45 and 7:45 p.m. We were told to go to the diningroom at 7:00 and get in line. We did get a table around 7 that first night. However, we didn't leave until 2 1/2 hours later! 4 other tables around us sat, ordered and ate before we got our entrees. We also had requested 2 Birthday desserts for that evening for the birthdays in our party. They never arrived. We missed the show that first night, and advised the Dining room manager and thru the app Navigator about our issues. The Diningroom manager more than made up for the first night the rest of the week and other than my getting an allergic reaction to Cilantro, the rest of our dining experience was good! We were surprised to see shrimp cocktail only offered one evening and none of the cold soups we had loved on previous cruises. Also, no baked Alaska, no chocolate extravaganza or parade of the diningroom staff.
In all our HAL cruises, we have never encountered the issues we had on this cruise! We saw our cabin steward 2X - after leaving a note for him. The woman in Guest Relations was not pleasant and not helpful in anyway. She seemed peeved that I asked for the drink charges to be compared/reviewed, and that I questioned an onboard credit that wasn't showing. There seemed to be far less staff than previously, and those that are there have more cabins to care for, more guests to serve. It seems HAL is cutting corners in all the wrong places. I think passengers would be willing to pay the going rate for the quality of service we used to receive. This is the first cruise we have been on, where I didn't feel like I was a special guest of Holland America. We were unable to attend the Mariner's luncheon as it conflicted with 2 other events we wanted to attend. Previously, we have received our HAL tiles in our cabin. This cruise nothing. We had saved up for our cruise, we have to fly down from Vermont, and it was my first vacation in 2 years. Though we enjoyed the ports, our friends and the fun we made ourselves, it was not the typical Holland America experience for us. Read Less