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12 Holland America Australia & New Zealand Cruise Reviews

We chose this cruise on the basis of previous happy cruises with HAL, a total of some eighty (80) days on Volendam x 2 , Westerdam and Konigsdam. The service, entertainment, and especially the food on those cruises were pivotal factors in ... Read More
We chose this cruise on the basis of previous happy cruises with HAL, a total of some eighty (80) days on Volendam x 2 , Westerdam and Konigsdam. The service, entertainment, and especially the food on those cruises were pivotal factors in selecting Noordam. We are bitterly disappointed in the Noordam cruise and it’s invisible on board management. I shall be writing to HAL CEO, Stein Kruse seeking an apology. Some points:- We ate in Pinnacle for the Sal de Mer. The food was cold and the steak inedible. Dining room fare was inevitably cold and the menus were very limited. One starter was sweetbreads on apple tarte tatin! Lido experiences were similarly mediocre, one toasted bagel was mouldy and it seems that few of the kitchen brigade can cook pasta. In room dining was haphazard. The ”special” lunch with the Captain was brunch served from 11AM ‘til Noon sharp. The duelling pianists and BB King band were very good but why have a solo harpist in the main theatre? The cruise director was rarely seen. Guest Services (sic) were palpably not interested in assisting passengers HAL Club staff were rude and indifferent to our concerns for the OH&S of children. Dress codes were never enforced -shorts, t shirts and sandals on gala nights! Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
This was a Dave Koz Charter Cruz! Ship was contaminated with a flu bug. Hundreds of passengers on Week 1 and Week 2 got seriously ill with a flu bug (Cough, sore throat, chills, fever and loss of appetite - lasted for over 4 days). ... Read More
This was a Dave Koz Charter Cruz! Ship was contaminated with a flu bug. Hundreds of passengers on Week 1 and Week 2 got seriously ill with a flu bug (Cough, sore throat, chills, fever and loss of appetite - lasted for over 4 days). The ship was very old and when we hit rough waters it showed. Many people were sick and also got sick in the main dining hall. Germs were spreading everywhere. Food selections were scarce and they up-charged you a 15% service charge regardless of the service received. a Would not cancel our massage during the heavy turbulence going to Tasmania and I got really ill on the table. Paid for a massage that I did not enjoy. I felt sorry for the crew being forced to work in this environment. Also had to organize our own excursions due to limitation of Holland America. I would never cruise on this line again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
Overall Rating - Pacific Isles, Tasman & Bass Srts 1/5 We have completed over 50 cruises including World cruises on Cunard, Celebrity, Princess et al, with another booked in April on Celebrity Solstice. This cruise on the ... Read More
Overall Rating - Pacific Isles, Tasman & Bass Srts 1/5 We have completed over 50 cruises including World cruises on Cunard, Celebrity, Princess et al, with another booked in April on Celebrity Solstice. This cruise on the Noordam has been our worst ever, never to be repeated. I do not enjoy writing a bad review, but this needed to be said, honestly and fairly as it happened. Here is a sampling: ship and verandah room in disrepair (visible rust everywhere, wallpaper peeling, bedding old and uncomfortable), food lackluster (served luke warm, absent seasoning in Lido and Main), evident influenza epidemic, but only a warning issued of “Seasonal Flu” at the end of 1st segment). We cannot help but believe that this cruise cut corners at every level. It was short on entertainment (except for Noordam singers & dancers), food quality (except for Canaletto), things to do, dilapidation of the ship (rusting in every corner). Frankly, there is too much competition and too may choices of better cruise lines, and we have sailed with many. Further, the Australia routes are gouged price wise compared to USA and European routes, but then again, Australia is gouged at every level anyway as an easy unsuspecting target. Stateroom Location #8134 AFT: 1/5 What a terrible mistake we made through our Agent. The Navigation deck AFT is right below the pool deck area. Constant moving of chairs beginning at 5.30am every day and picking up around mid morning and mid afternoon. Also the room is too small, making it difficult to navigate. Barely room to walk past the bed! The deck is so small it does not serve any useful purpose., so it went unused. Our previous cruise on the Noordam we had a Neptune Suite. Finally, refuse from the above pool deck collects on the small balcony! The TV is located to the right of the balcony sliding doors, where you need to be a contortionist to see it! Conclusion: Be prepared to pay the significantly extra cost for a Neptune or Mini Suite, otherwise pass on the Noordam. We will pass anyway. Too many other choices of great cruise lines. Ship Quality: 1/5 Sorry, this ship is very much in need of a complete renovation. The ship was already tired during our last voyage, 2 years ago. and it is worse on this cruise. The only reason for taking this cruise again was a decision to take a cruise over the Xmas/NY Season. Rust and corrosion everywhere, dingy carpeting, peeling wallpaper. Conclusion: This ship has not been maintained. We did not see one person painting rust during the 2 segments. During our quarantine for illness for 5 days, the balcony wash washed down very briefly and poorly once, insufficient to remove the debris collected from the above pool deck! We suggest waiting until the renovation takes place if you are considering the Noordam! Health & Influenza: 1/5 We encountered several passengers who were down with either the gastro infections, the flu or the Influenza virus. We took every precaution to avoid it, unsuccessfully. There had been no alert issued by the Noordam. Notwithstanding taking every precaution to avoid infection, I first contracted gastro infection, then my wife came down with the flu, then I came down with influenza, which was horrible, quarantined to the cabin for 5 days. There was neither any mention nor WARNING of these pervasive infections from Noordam until the last day of the 1st segment to be aware of “Seasonal Flu”. Evidently Noordam management opted to put their head in the sand, and let the passengers fend for themselves! It seems the preference is to raise no alert! Restaurants: 2/5 Canaletto (Service and Food) – Syarif & attendants great servce 5/5 Pinnacle Grill (Service Excellent, food very good) – Stephen and Wohan great service 5/5 Main (Gilroy tries hard but all other Service fair, food poor) 1/5 Lido (no trays available, table service very good, ) Food station service poor, food poor) 1/5 Kyrisha @ Pasta Station has consistently poor attitude, having observed her rudeness with passengers over the course of the Cruise. If you prefer hot food, you will need to pay extra at the Canaletto or the Pinnacle. We had food delivered to the room several times from the Canaletto and the Pinnacle, but it would arrive warm or cold. Entertainment: average at best 2/5 Noordam singers and Dancers 5/5 Other entertainment (Comedians, Magicians etc) 1/5 Cruise Director 1/5 Constant barrage of announcements made by Jae, Cruise Director,who likes to hear himself over the speaker morning noon and night, with little tangible effort beyond that. Spoke directly with the Jae on New Years Eve, questioning why there were no chairs provided on the Lido deck. He responded in an insolent, rude and undignified manner, and laid the blame squarely on a decision and directive made by Home Office that no chairs should be provided. If this is true, and if this is the level of Head Office involvement on the Noordam, what is the need for Jae? Both my wife and I agreed that this must have been a decision taken on the Noordam, with Jae shifting blame for a stupid decision, and an unwillingness to take any responsibility for a stupid decision. Then, for the final stage performance by the Noordam Singers and Dancers, with all passengers having been kept waiting15 minutes past start time, Jae, Cruise Director, arrived on stage as though all is great, asking how everyone is enjoying the cruise, only to announce that due to audio problems, the show has been cancelled. This is clearly Jae’s responsibility to ensure all systems are a go, where audio etc should be validated well prior to the performance. This is yet another example of the ineptness, with no admission of responsibility nor apology. We have been on many cruises where the Cruise Director steps up when needed. Not in this case. Guest Services: Request to move to a Suite 2/5 We spoke with Guest Services at the start of our cruise on the 1st segment, requesting to move from #8134. A Neptune Suite was available. We were quoted an extra US$4,000 for the upgrade on the 1st segment only, with no guarantee on the 2nd segment, or where we would be located! We offered US$2,500 given the move and the uncertainty for the 2nd segment. Guest Services countered with their final offer of US$3,500. We passed. We requested an upgrade to a mini suite on the 2nd segment. After two calls to follow up with guest services, being informed they were checking with Corporate, and in the middle of the 2nd segment without a response, we contacted guest services a 3rd time asking why they had not extended the courtesy of a response. They were failed to provide any reasonable response, simply apologizing profusely. Festivities: 2/5 Christmas Eve & Day Celebrations – very basic 2/5 New Year Eve Celebration 2/5 Both celebrations missed the mark by a long shot. Nothing special or memorable offered. NYE celebrations were held on the Lido decks, with windy conditions outside, and NO CHAIRS provided inside. Room Service 2/5 Since we were ill and isolated in our cabin, we were required to order room service. The order taking over the telephone resulted in incorrect deliveries, cold food, one very late delivery on the Canaletto, with totally COLD food (where it had been sitting for some time), or missing items. On one occasion room service called us to see if we enjoyed our meal. We responded we were still waiting for it to be delivered. Embarkation Sydney: 5/5 Fast check in, went smoothly. Bags arrived at Stateroom before us! Suggestion: arrive at port around 2pm after the crowd for easy no hassle check in. Disembarkation Ports & Tenders: 5/5 Few wait lines, efficiently handled Ports of Call: 3/5 1st Segment: Mostly Island beaches and sparsely populated. You need to like beaches and seclusion with few things to do. The French in New Caledonia were neither warm nor friendly, living up to the French reputation. Non French Islanders were warm and receptive, appreciative of the Tourist Dollars. The Noordam failed to deliver nightly information in advance of ports of call, which is a first! The weather was mixed and unpredictable. 2nd segment: limited with Port Arthur (a must see for Australia history), Auckland, Adelaide, and Kangaroo Island, collectively difficult to justify. Spa Thermal Pool 3/5 Upon boarding the Noordam we visited the Spa to sign up for the Hydra pool package, only to be told they were sold out! We enjoyed this on our prior cruise on the Noordam. We were able to sign up on port days in the afternoons. We were able to sign up for the package on the 2nd segment, but since we came down with influenza, we had to cancel. The package is definitely worth it, as it is one of the few things worthy on the Noordam. Spa Hairdresser 5/5 Sally gave cuts and styling to both my wife and self. Sally was very professional and gave great cuts and styles. Stores on board: 2/5 General items are sparse. Purchased needed items at port visits. Internet 1/5 Signed up for the package with full access excluding video. The Internet Is VERY SLOW, and often kicked me off the Internet entirely, or unable to connect. It was Impossible to search on the Web. Its only use was emails & basics, if you can connect! This Internet Service is in serious need of an upgrade, comparable with the Internet connections available on more advanced liners Reception: 5/5 Responsive.. Standout is “Roma”. Be prepared for long lines. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
We choose this cruise ship because of its very interesting itinerary. It stops at all ports in New Zealand and most of the Sothern/western Australia. We booked both segments, one 13 days from Auckland to Sidney and thence 16 days to Perth. ... Read More
We choose this cruise ship because of its very interesting itinerary. It stops at all ports in New Zealand and most of the Sothern/western Australia. We booked both segments, one 13 days from Auckland to Sidney and thence 16 days to Perth. But we made an error to book into a 29 days journey on a 25 years old boat, a small ocean liner by today's standard. In my mind, the age and the size by themselves is not a problem, giving HAL is known for its great service and food. Well, how wrong we are. Our ordeal started immediately upon boarding. On the surface, the ship had a cosmetic makeover and our stateroom is pretty updated and we do not have a complaint about it, even it is an inside cabin, room 744, on the lowest passenger deck, deck 4. However, the devil is in the details. My major complaint, and it is real, is that I got locked in a toilet in the Ledo Deck men's public. That bathroom is divided into two sections, the toilet and the uraine stall plus the washing sink. between them there is a sliding pocket door, that public bathroom has no emergency alarm bottom as the other public bathrooms do. HAL did not bother to install a new sliding pocket door when they renovate the ship most likely it is expensive and involves opening up the structure which may affect integrity. So, not only it will not latch, but when I got into the toilet side, the door got stuck and I could not open the door after using the toilet. I am physically a very fit person, I tried everything I could to either open the door or tried to signal my wife who was reading a book only 20 feet away out side on a lounge chair. Because the structure of the door and the bathroom, my phone could not receive any wifi signal and my bang on the wall or door was not heard. Finally, after struggled for 15 minutes, some one came in to use the bathroom and was able to call a crew member to release the door. I was saved. I did report the incident to the front desk immediately. The lady at the desk was kind enough to accompany me to the bathroom the examine the pocket door, Of course, by that time, the crew had "repair" the door so it opens and close properly. I know it will fail again, if it is not replaced or disabled. In the few days after the incident, no warning sing was posted on the door. Only after a week or 10 days after, I saw the door had been disabled by the management. Apparently, there are enough incidents in that bathroom similar to my experience. My bad experiences on this ship did not stop with the incident. Bad management shows every where in my 29 days with the cruise. Here are a few major ones that I can echo most of the problems from the people I have talked to and my own obersercation. 1. The quality of the cooking. Please note that I am NOT complaining about the food ingrediances, but the cooking. With few exceptions, the food are very well overcooked. That includes, almost all the fish, sea food, vegitable and meat. My wife incidentally met the chef and compalint about the over cooked fish, so it did improve after 10 days of hard "rock fish" meals.She failed to mention that "rubber band" asperigus knife cannot cut through, so we stopped to order any thing that has asperigus in it. You get the same thing over and over every day in Ledo buffet, the main dining room has more veriety, but because of the cooking, most of the time, it is not a very enjoyable dining. I've heard rave reviews for the hamburger joint next to the pool, but we are not a fan in hambergers and those high salt conent greesy french fries. 2. Lack of entertainment. From MANY four-five HAL stars(over 200 days on HAL) curisers including the lady at the future cruise desk who represented HAL told me that this cruise had cut back entertainment and replaced it with EXC or enrichment talks. It was such a boring ship, there is no music on the ship during the day, lots lots of "talks" or EXC presentations and movies. Its like a dead ship. After 6pm, some "entertainment" is provided, but everything is like from the stone ages. Music is from the 70's or older, good singers on stage are few and far in between, "Avita" was provided three times. Piano bar is handled by only the same person for the entire 29 days from 8-close, he is over worked and ran out of voice. The lone comedian gave the same "jokes" night after night, even after "new material" was announced one night. However, people flock into the theater 1/2 hour before the show starts because there is nothing eles to do on the ship. The Library has the most crowd because it has the most game and book to kill time. 3. Over priced excursions. You can find the same excursion from other providers at half or third of whats offered. I am so sorry that we did not know that the members of the cruise critic have organized excursions on this ship, but you live and learn. All in all, I will not join HAL again given the knowledge that HAL and Carnival, its parent company, had severly cutting corners in recent years. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
We wanted to go to Norfolk and it was on the itinerary so chose this cruise over others because of that mainly. It also went to other places we were interested in and so we saved our money and booked it. We traveled to Norfolk but ... Read More
We wanted to go to Norfolk and it was on the itinerary so chose this cruise over others because of that mainly. It also went to other places we were interested in and so we saved our money and booked it. We traveled to Norfolk but couldn't disembark as it was too rough. Talking with others was interesting as apparently the chances of getting onto Norfolk are about 2/7. We felt totally cheated and believe strongly this port should come with a warning so people can make an informed decision before paying. From the very start we were disappointed in things and by the time the cruise was half over all we wanted to do was go home. Having been on two other cruises with two different companies we had scope to compare our experiences and expectations with. There was no welcome aboard drink or even a welcome aboard except from the cabin stewards who were wonderful. Our cabin, 640, was really noisy and while part of this was vents in the passage that we were told were needing some adjusting (but it wasn't ever done) no-one could explain what caused the loud humming which seemed to come from the outside of the ship. After complaining four times over six days we were finally moved to 643 which was on the other side of the ship and it was blissfully quiet. The entertainment was really poor when it happened at all. Far too little to do on this ship and what there was really had limited appeal. The food in the Lido buffet was boring and the same things over and over again and the one time there were fresh stir fry veges they were gone in a flash. The waste was huge and you would think someone would start to question why this was happening. Excursions were way over priced and one we went on was triple the price Joe Public would pay. We learned to find our own on shore excursions and to be paying what it was actually worth. The price for bottled water was prohibitive as was the alcohol and then there was the 15% extra on top. The shops and casino were empty a huge amount of the time and that wasn't surprising when the cost of shop items was looked at. The staff stood around and looked totally bored which they probably were. There were some pluses though. Disembarkation was smooth and fast. It was a real plus. The Cabin Stewards were totally fabulous and the other crew were great as well.Cabin stewards always spoke to us as if they really cared and they knew our names. They couldn't be faulted. The Room Service was fabulous and the bowl of fruit in the room was really appreciated. When we chose a time for our morning coffee it was delivered on time and by such friendly crew. Absolutely fabulous service. Even with the positive things we would never travel with this company again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
We chose this cruise due to the itinerary and the supposed reputation of Holland America being a classy cruise line. It was to be a continuation of a seven night cruise that we took on the Paul Gauguin. We were looking forward to the ... Read More
We chose this cruise due to the itinerary and the supposed reputation of Holland America being a classy cruise line. It was to be a continuation of a seven night cruise that we took on the Paul Gauguin. We were looking forward to the stops at Rarotonga, Cook Islands - Alofi, Niue - Vava u, Tonga - Savusavu, Vanua Levi, Fiji - Suva, Viti Levu, Fiji - Dravuni, Fiji - Nuku alofa, Tonga. To set the stage for the tender rides to shore we need to say that prior to our cruise a woman was killed while getting on the tender at a stop. Of course like the military Holland America made a decision to screw all of it's passengers due to the actions of one unfortunate soul. They cancelled the first two stops stating the sea state was to high to go a shore. They must not have realized there were many passengers that had a great deal of experience with boating and knew that the sea state was not as bad as they were saying. Real big disappointment to all aboard. All of the remaining stops we did go ashore. Shore excursions were totally overpriced. We went ashore an picked up tours at far cheaper prices than Holland America offered. For a cruise line that is supposed to be classy Holland America made it far from that. Everytime you turned around they were trying to up sale you. From the over price bottled water and canned sodas in the state rooms, to the over priced additional restaurants, to the drastically overpriced cocktails and wine. Add to this the upscale jewelry stores which I very seldom saw passengers present. The casino that was almost as empty as the jewelry stores. Really do they really need to send out daily sales brochures trying to temp you with the 20% off sale which they raised the price on items 20% prior to the sale. It seems they could have used this space for more over priced restaurants or even heaven forbid a better stocked sundry store. Now let us talk about a dead ship. Even though we are 59 and 62 we seemed to have more life than the typical passenger that appeared to be above the age of 70 and no young 70s for sure. You would think that there would be South Pacific Island music playing all over the ship. You know to set the mood. But, no, Holland America plays elevator music when they play it at all. You would get more exciting music in a mortuary or morgue. Who knows maybe that is what the old folks really want. The musical entertainers actually play Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak tree, Really? The ship seemed to be in less than stealer condition. There was rust everywhere. The cover over the midship pool broke during the cruise and it didn't seem like the crew had the capability to fix it. The covers on the lifeboats seemed faded and strained. In fact on a couple of them they seemed to be torn or caved in. The tenders were filthy and unkempt. To think that the elderly passengers could have to use these boats in an emergency was disappointing and scary. The average crew member did a good job. Even when they were forced to sell things which they looked embarrassed and not comfortable doing. Our cabin steward was great. The dining room staff was great. Can't really say anything bad about the basic crew member on the Maasdam. The front desk personnel did a great job. There was a strange noise that kept happening in our first stateroom. We complained and they moved us to a new stateroom very quickly. Our stateroom was very clean and comfortable. We purchased the laundry service for the entire cruise. We felt it was a good value and the staff did a great job. The internet service was slow and expensive for what you received. We realize the signal has to travel many thousands of mile but really that slow? The food on the ship was good. However, no better than any other cruise ship we had been on. Holland America really needs to step it up to live up to a reputation that seems like it had gotten many years ago. Stop selling and make it a classy ship again or close the line down and save not only themselves but the passengers from a poor experience. Many folks that we had spoke to that had cruised Holland America in the passed said that this would be their last cruise on the line. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
It was the worst cruise of the prior three. The ceiling in the lido restaurant leaked, as we carried our food past trying not to get drops of unhealthy, dirty, water on our food. The Wifi was crappy and cost a lot, they charged for ... Read More
It was the worst cruise of the prior three. The ceiling in the lido restaurant leaked, as we carried our food past trying not to get drops of unhealthy, dirty, water on our food. The Wifi was crappy and cost a lot, they charged for drinking water, pop, ever to ride the exercise bike 15 dollars, yoga cost 8 dollars, the food was repetitive at dinner and very bland. There next to no good entertainment around the pool on the sea days. The ports of course were excellent. The excursions on the ship were way over priced, could get them half price and better in port. I can't believe some of the fools liked that the ship, it was so sad. We also lost our air conditioning for 3 days, could barley sleep at night. The only good thing on the ship was the night time entertainment. It's a good thing we met 2 other passengers from the states who totally agreed with us about the ship. Our friends and us will never cruise MESSDAM again..............I spelt it like that for a reason, terrible money grabbing crappy ship. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
My wife had never been to Australia or New Zealand, so we chose the Maasdam for our 8th cruise so we could catch some of the highlights of both countries easily. Embarkation was quick and smooth. The ship is showing it's age, ... Read More
My wife had never been to Australia or New Zealand, so we chose the Maasdam for our 8th cruise so we could catch some of the highlights of both countries easily. Embarkation was quick and smooth. The ship is showing it's age, but it seemed to be kept in good condition. The staff in the Club Hal kids club kept my 4 year old daughter well entertained. The various excursion we went on were pretty good, not the best value for money, and sometimes a bit disorganised. We used the free shuttle buses a number of times and found the service very good. Our dining experience was going well until day 10 of the cruise when my wife found a cockroach type insect cooked with her vegetables in her salmon dinner (This was in the main dining room, deck 8, table 19, 5:30 sitting). We called the waiter over, he was just as horrified as us. We then complained to the manager and the head chef, but most of their "apology" consisted of an explanation of how many insects there are in Austrailia and New Zealand at this time of year. My wife told them that she wanted to have a look at the kitchens herself so that could regain her confidence in Holland Americas food preparation standards, they scoffed at the notion, but assured us though that our complaint would go all the way to head office. Head office didn't seem to care as we heard nothing back. We then took our complaint to the front-desk (it was the first they heard about the cockroach find), explaining that we had lost all confidence in the food, the front desk said they would look into the issue further and get back to us. They did not get back to us. Feeling ignored, we cancelled out daily gratuities, citing the cockroach, still nobody cared. Next we cancelled our next cruise with Holland America, and stopped making ship-board purchases. Overall, the "foreign object in food" find, as they called it was disturbing and disappointing, but it was Holland Americas handling of the incident that ruined the cruise for us. We were fobbed off at every turn and no effort was made to restore our confidence in their food preparation standards. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
This was my first cruise with Holland America Line and must say a very disappointing experience in comparison to other companies. Oosterdam ship is aging, and unfortunately this is not balanced with the service which I would quote as very ... Read More
This was my first cruise with Holland America Line and must say a very disappointing experience in comparison to other companies. Oosterdam ship is aging, and unfortunately this is not balanced with the service which I would quote as very poor for a cruise experience. Thanksfully, you'll find some friendly staff onboard, but overall the level of service is poor. Staff reflect a low level of standards and worse tell you things but doesn't act as said! Curiously staff is using the same facilities than customers on their day off and you lost sense of who is the customer and who is the professional supposed to be in charge to make your cruise an enjoyable experience. Worse... as ship needs some refresh works, workers do execute those from early morning with short notice and refrain from ability to use the outside veranda. Food is ok, but once again below expectation for a ship cruise. It is hardly difficult to say a positive word on this cruise, but once again a few staff members are willing to offer a great experience, but these individual skills are not taken consistently through management not raising the bar and ensuring everyones fully dedicated to service. All in all poor service, aging boot, staff nor dediated to service and customer, ongoing works and lack of professionalism... NEVER BACK ON HOLLAND AMERICA LINE! Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
Overall, HAL has gotten fat and lazy, just like most of its clientele. It doesn't make any effort to assure that the information they provide about ports is comprehensive or current. The furniture in the rooms is stained, dirty, ... Read More
Overall, HAL has gotten fat and lazy, just like most of its clientele. It doesn't make any effort to assure that the information they provide about ports is comprehensive or current. The furniture in the rooms is stained, dirty, badly beaten down and some of it is broken. The carpeting in the main entertainment center has shredded and ripped areas, which pose an actual tripping hazard. It makes no effort from start to finish on a cruise to vary the menu at the Pool Grill, Pool buffet, Main Dining room and Specialty restaurants. Food is heavily salted, fatty, starchy, and prepared in some of the greasiest ways possible. Even the salad bar lacks healthy choices as they load it with starchy choices along with numerous salads made with mayonnaise. HAL policies and practices are too rigid, but they manage to put the company's wellbeing ahead of the customer, at all times. The embarkation process at Sydney was a complete third world experience. Computers shut down and needed re-booting but no one knew that for about an hour. Then 1800 people had to be processed through a temporary "tent" facility and put into large groups to wait to be called. When a group was called, people rushed up without regard for the group number they were in and the crew could not check because there was no card given that said what group number you were in. Check in took in excess of 90 minutes, regardless of when a person arrived. Pure chaos. The cruise wasted two days (of the published itinerary) at sea doing nothing but circles and floating. This was an affront to us. It is misrepresentation when HAL used a sea day to go from one port to another when the actual travel time on the ship at 15 knots would be less than 12 hours. This results in false figures when making comparisons between competitors' cruises. Adding unnecessary days to the schedule, just to inflate the cruise duration is a misleading and crass practice. HAL knowingly went to a city (Noumea) that is completely shut down on Sunday. McDonald's was the only business open in a town of 100,000 people. All shops were closed, all museums were closed. Waste of time. The captain had the opportunity to rectify this problem when a storm caused him to re-plan 8 days of the cruise's port schedule once we were underway. He chose to skip a port, just to keep the scheduled arrival at Noumea on the day it was completely closed. HAL does way too much nickel and dime costs once on board. Everything costs, even events that are free on virtually all cruise lines. HAL does everything it can to extract dollars from the customers pockets once you are on board. Not even water for the room is free. Bar costs are way too high ($7-14) for 1 ounce measured pours PLUS a service charge of 15% even if you don't have a waiter involved. Very high daily tip ($24) is automatically charged to your cabin for services provided by all the staff on board. HAL caters to a clientele that is way too old, disabled, grumpy and low class. Restaurant menus never change from day to day. Even in their specialty restaurants, the menus are so old that the covers are breaking up. I would expect this from a poorly run greasy-spoon diner, but not some operation like HAL who lauds themselves as being a class act. Entertainment during the main shows at night is more like amateur night. The lounge shows were between horrid and acceptable. The person providing information about the various ports often did not provide accurate information about free shuttles. She was only interested in selling more excursions from the ship and actually gave us false information about services such as telling us we could only get into two ports by taking the ship's transportation which cost a hefty fee. At both ports, the local visitor bureau had free shuttles which did not require us to wait for 50 other people the waddle on board. The maps supplied by the ship were practically worthless and much of the information was dated and inaccurate, sometimes by years. When asked about the resources available at a local town, the staff always pleaded total ignorance about anything but the ship's excursions, yet they spoke in terms of the broad and expansive experience and knowledge they had regarding all the ports before the ship got to them. If a person wanted to watch the ship's office staff go mute, one only had to ask them where the free WiFi locations were in town. At a number of ports, the local visitors' bureaus set up free WiFi at the dock and even though the ship had been to the port before AND the huge "Free WiFi" signs were visible from the ship, none of the staff (except the waiters and cabin attendants) would "know anything" about free WiFi before a port. The actions of the crew makes one wonder if it was all another way to sell more shipboard internet time. There are signs posted at one of two pools and at the heated spas stating that children under 14 are not allowed. Parents would ignore the sign or they weren't around the pool when their children used all pools and heated spas. When the ship's staff was approached to correct this situation, nothing was done, repeatedly. Therefore, we had to endure children as young as 4 jumping and screaming in both pools and all the heated spas for the duration of the cruise. One of our email accounts was attacked by a virus provided through the internet service on board. The hacking was so malicious, we received thousands of emails which bypassed the normal spam controls and ended up in our inbox. The provider of that public email service had to shut down our account and we have subsequently had to terminate its existence. Thank you, HAL. The ship makes a big deal about doing things environmentally correct, but every day our mail slot outside our cabin had 2-4 pieces of paper with junk advertising for the on-board shops, art auctions, gambling, future cruises and excursions. Our recycle trash can was full every day with just junk mail we had to discard. The Cruise Director held an "event" on the last day at sea just to tell all on board that the ratings in the customer survey needed to be scored a minimum of 9 on their scale. Pandering good survey reviews in this manner makes the survey process a sham. Just another strike against the integrity of HAL cruises. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
Our experience was so bad, we disembarked in wellington after 4 days of the cruise. It was a floating nursing home and everything about the ship and it's itinerary of entertainment reflected that. The real 'rub of salt in the ... Read More
Our experience was so bad, we disembarked in wellington after 4 days of the cruise. It was a floating nursing home and everything about the ship and it's itinerary of entertainment reflected that. The real 'rub of salt in the wounds' came with the reply from Holland America: Thank you for the email regarding your ms Volendam . We truly appreciate the valuable feedback you have provided us. Please be advised that when guests do wish to personally disembark it is often for an emergency. Thus our front desk staff wills not inquire the reason unless it is volunteered. In addition, if none of your concerns were brought to our attention, we are unable to remedy them. In addition, we are very sorry that you were not pleased with the scope of activities available on your recent sailing. Holland America Line strives to offer a spectrum of activities and events, keeping in mind a wide range of age, interest, and ability, and we regularly update our choices. Many of our newer activities are enrichment-based, such as cooking classes, digital workshops, wine tastings, and in-depth presentations about ports of call. Plus, we retain the more traditional choices, such as movies and games, volleyball and tennis, and disco or ballroom dancing. In this way, we try to ensure that a balance of activities is available to all of our guests. Some of our travelers may choose to participate in onboard activities, while others will prefer to simply relax, lounge by the pool, or curl up in a quiet spot with a good book. We do regret your dissatisfaction with the activities offered, and assure you that your input on any cruise aspect is always welcome. Thank you again for contacting our office and bringing your issues to our attention. We assure you that we appreciate your comments, and hope that you will give us another opportunity to create the positive experience we know our sailings can offer. This was my reply: I'm somewhat bemused at your comment that I provided you with valuable feedback, because in my previous emails I gave little indication as to why we were so dissatisfied that we left the cruise after four days. You mention 'remedy'. It would have been fruitless gesture to mention at the front desk that we didn't want to travel on a floating nursing home. The atmosphere on-board was certainly indicative of a nursing home and my suspicions were confirmed with the ambulance crew dragging their stretcher on-board at Tauranga. I have nothing against the elderly. I spend a lot of my working life in their company, but if I had the information to hand at the age group that the cruise was pitched at, then we would have looked elsewhere. However the information that would have been extremely useful was the itinerary of events. Needless to say those activities are planned in advance, as those that deliver the events or presentations have to be booked on-board. That information available to view on the website for the ship and the cruise would have been very useful and as such we would have looked elsewhere for something more appropriate for us. As for making any other comments, I doubt they would have been actioned. We had to listen to the inane babble of Jeremy the cruise director, which was inescapable where ever we we're on the ship. There was a tannoy right outside our cabin. At one point he was asking us to count the holes in the face of an offshore rock which had been partially eroded by the wind. That was day one, and already the alarm bells were ringing for us. At meal times we were given a napkin roll with cutlery. However the minute we left our seat to get another dish the staff would clean away. We would then have to get another napkin roll and find a different seat. That somewhat flies in the face of intended green credentials. I also found it somewhat strange that we were drinking long-life milk, when we were on the doorstep of one of the top dairy producers of the world. The Costa Concordia has dominated the news for all the wrong reasons, and I would mention that whilst on-board the Volendam and attending the, very brief, lifeboat drill the concept of making our way back to the cabin (with it's partial delay electronic key entry system), to retrieve our lifejackets was somewhat of a daunting prospect in the event of a real emergency. It was also noticeable that there was no escape panel fitted to the cabin doors for use in the event of a collision. Seriously, someone needs to look at that. It may make the difference between someone being to escape from their cabin when the ship's sinking or being condemned to death by drowning in a box. Anyway, Caitlin, again thanks for getting back to me. Your scripted response wasn't the best fob-off I've ever read, but nonetheless a reasonable effort. On closing please try to make information more readily available to potential customers, after all this is the age of information technology. It really isn't that difficult to get the information out. On closing, we will never book a cruise with Holland and America. There will be no return to try the experience again. It was without question the worst holiday experience ever and had little to recommend it for anyone under the age of 65.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
I booked 4 staterooms on Holland America's 14 Day New Zealand & Australia cruise, departing January 30, 2011, on the Volendam. I booked 1 Deluxe Verandah Suite and 3 Veranda Suites for 9 people. The trip was a gift from me to my ... Read More
I booked 4 staterooms on Holland America's 14 Day New Zealand & Australia cruise, departing January 30, 2011, on the Volendam. I booked 1 Deluxe Verandah Suite and 3 Veranda Suites for 9 people. The trip was a gift from me to my family and the cruise was quite expensive. During the cruise for over half the time in all 4 cabins we experienced no hot water, one cabin only had hot water for 1 day. In 3 cabins we had no functional air conditioning for the entire trip and in the 4th cabin the air conditioning did not work 5 out of 14 days. It was summer in New Zealand and quite warm. We complained, but nothing was ever repaired. The cabins also were extremely dirty. The carpet was soiled to the point that you would not walk in bare feet and the upholstery was equally dirty. I wrote Holland America regarding my experience and requested a refund of 30-40% stating that they advertise a "premium cruise experience for discerning cruisers" and that was not what we received. We received 2 star accommodations. Holland America's response was to give each passenger an individual $250 credit toward a future cruise on Holland America. This in no way said we are sorry for your inconvenience, anyone can get a $250 credit toward a future cruise just for asking. I travel extensively and understand occasional mechanical failures and not everything is perfect all the time. I have never asked for a refund in my 35 years of travel, but this was blatantly selling a product and a condition of ship that did not exist. The ship Volendam should either have been taken out of service for upgrading or had a reduced price and a disclaimer that the ship was not a premium class vessel. Holland America obviously does not care about the customer or the experience they deliver. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
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