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8 Holland America Hong Kong Cruise Reviews

Last January I traveled from Hong Kong to Singapore on the Volendaam. I have thought long and hard about this review, and I tried to contact someone at Holland America to talk about it, but I got no response better than a brush off ... Read More
Last January I traveled from Hong Kong to Singapore on the Volendaam. I have thought long and hard about this review, and I tried to contact someone at Holland America to talk about it, but I got no response better than a brush off "You reported a sharp zip", which is an untruth. It is possible that they did act on my correspondence; if so, they gave no indication of that, so here it is. My concerns were about poor maintenance and safety. The poor maintenance applied to all parts of the ship. It was very cold throughout the ship for the first few days, people were leaving the dining room to go back and fetch their coats. Anyone with an engineering training kept noticing maintenance tasks that were just not being doing done when they should - engineers are trained to actively look for problems, it becomes a habit. The Lido area was in such a bad way that it just looked tatty. I did raise the issue with the front desk, and with the Lido manager (I think he said he was) but nothing got done. The overwhelming impression I received was that the Maintenance Department was seriously under staffed, or dreadfully badly managed. That was only disappointing. Then we got to Halong Bay and went ashore on a Tender. These Tenders have zip panels (4 in all) in sides for entry and exit which are a vital component of the Tender in a heavy sea. A heavy sea is what you will be in if the ship sinks and has to be abandoned, so it really matters. A heavy sea is what the Tender will find itself in, if during the 10 minute journey to shore it gets caught in a vicious sudden squall (it happens). If the panels don't zip up securely the water floods into the boat and passengers will get washed away. People will probably die. On this particular Tender the zips on the rear port side panel were completely shot, large sections of teeth missing, zip stitching failed and coming away from the canvas. There was no way that panel could have been closed, at all, not even slightly. It was appalling that passengers were being sent out in that boat, it was appalling that the seamen manning the Tender were apparently un-aware of its dangerous state, and were surprised when I pointed it out. It begged the question of who was responsible for ensuring this Tender was in a safe condition. As far as I could work out - no one. OK, one Tender, they got a report, I assumed that they would do what any organization would that has any kind of a safety culture, if one was wrong they would fix it and go round and check all the others. That is what you do, that is safety 101, and if you don't do that sooner or later, you get a serious accident. Then we went by Tender into Danang. This tender had similar problems (forward port side) in that the stitching had failed in three places. If a wave hit that weakened stitching it would rip the rest of it open in moments, and again people would likely be washed overboard. So bad stitching, shouldn't have happened. But it's worse that that. Those tenders are constructed as two fibreglass sections (top and bottom) joined together to form a monocoque structure. In the centre is a 2 metre high vertical steel square section that holds the steering gear and cabling up to the steering wheel on a mezzanine area. That square section also helps to hold the roof up and is an integral part of the strength of the roof of the Tender, the strength of the roof of the Tender that will be vital if a wave lands on it in a storm. The box section was formed from a C (aka U) channel with a plate screwed onto the front with screws every 15cms. That precisely regular distance between the screws tells you that the Engineer who designed the structure calculated how close together the screws need to be to get the full strength of a Box section, and not just the much weaker C section behind it. But most of the screws were missing. Clearly a maintenance worker had taken the plate off and when putting it back again decided he didn't need all those screws to hold a covering plate in place, and didn't bother with two thirds of them. But it's not a covering plate, it's a structural element; it really matters. Further there were no screws at all at the L bend at the bottom (where they were not conveniently accessible), which would be the most likely fracture point because bends are always a weak point. This was not a recent phenomenon. The empty screw holes had been over painted. So a maintenance engineer didn't do their job properly, whoever signed off that work didn't do their job, the Tender has subsequently undergone further maintenance, and the person who painted it didn't say "This isn't right", and whoever signed off that paint job didn't notice anything either. Further the dozens of seamen who have manned that Tender since haven't noticed or haven't commented. In the airline industry where safety is taken seriously any one of these people would have been sacked on the spot, immediate dismissal, and all their past work reviewed. But what does that mean for the sea worthiness of the Tender? Could it survive a heavy sea? Nobody knows; it is as simple as that, nobody knows. Unless you go back to the original designer's calculations, who will have designed for the roof to not collapse under a certain force (i.e. a great big wave landing on it), and put in a C channel to replace the Box section that was designed, you just don't know. It might be OK, it might not. Probably not, if it was OK without them the designer wouldn't have bothered with all those screws. Nobody designs in cost that isn't needed. So there we have it, it might be OK it might not, nobody's bothered. That seems to be the attitude to safety on the Volendaam. On the other hand, I hand traveled on the Zaandam the year before and found nothing to fault; nothing. How can two ships in the same company be so completely different? Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
This was our first and probably last trip with Holland America. We had previously done a 19 night trip with Cunard which we thoroughly enjoyed. The cruise ticked all the boxes when we booked. It was travelling from Hong Kong to Japan and ... Read More
This was our first and probably last trip with Holland America. We had previously done a 19 night trip with Cunard which we thoroughly enjoyed. The cruise ticked all the boxes when we booked. It was travelling from Hong Kong to Japan and was stopping at Shanghai, Beijing, Nagasaki and Osaka. The cruise was really a way of getting from Hong Kong to Osaka and the visited ports. I am just glad it was only a 14 cruise and not a 6 week cruise like Independents. My wife was ready to get off after 12 of the 14 days! We did a short independent holiday in Hong Kong first. We stayed at the Peninsula and everything was more perfect than even we expected. We then moved to the Marco Polo Hong Kong where we stayed in a continental club room. It was also good place to stay and it had the advantage of being close to the cruise terminal. A hotel porter took our luggage to the terminal and we appreciated the service. My concerns about the cruise arose on boarding when the gentleman ahead tried to collect my wife's purse and he had to be pulled away by his wife. He clearly was not with it. It soon became apparent that we were one of the few people of working age on the cruise and that the number of older cruisers on board was at an exceptionally high level. It was also apparent that it was more of a floating old peoples home than anything else. One of our friends had travelled on Holland America on a Mediterranean cruise and he had not encountered this problem. Things got off to a bad start as we were not told that there was a problem with the water. After my wife had a shower the face washer was very brown. We are not used to brown water where we live and it is not something that you should have to endure on your cruise. It took days for the problem to be acknowledged and it had not been resolved by the time we disembarked. My wife's experience with the front office in relation to this was very negative. Dining was another experience. We ended up giving up asking for a table for two in the Rotterdam dining room as it was invariably unavailable without an extended wait. Nor were we able to secure a reservation for a table for two. The treatment we received from the staff member allocating the tables is almost identical to that noted by a previous reviewer. That is, almost a sense of pleasure in saying that a table was not available despite us then walking past vacant tables for two. The range of meals and the quality of meals was below expectations as was the service. However, it tended to better than the food in the Lido which was more in the way of institutional food. The chicken was overcooked and the curries undercooked. The food was quite bland, which might be a reflection of what it is thought the target market want. Then again, it might be what they do want. After returning from the Beijing excursion where not surprisingly, Chinese banquet food was served, one traveller remarked how nice it was to come back to 'real food'. The fruit was problem. It was either too ripe or too unripe. When we were in Beijing there was a vendor's cart at the Tomb and they had a really nice range of fresh fruit. I would have liked some of it as what was on the boat was not great. We did go to the Pinnacle Grill and it was a real contrast. The food and the service was what you would expect of an up-market restaurant. If we were on the boat any longer I suspect we would have eaten there more even though you have to pay extra to eat there. Unlike the Cunard cruise, there was minimal to be offered in the way of intellectual stimulation. Lectures about gems etc were really not so thinly veiled sales pitches. Nor would I count casino activities as such activities. We paid for nearly all the Holland America shore excursions and while there were some issues that ought to be addressed they were good. We paid top dollar to stay in Beijing overnight.The main issue is that some of the passengers who had mobility issues did not seem to understand the Holland America brochures. Some wag suggested that the three people sign stood for "needs three carers to push you". They did not understand that structures built in a time before lifts and escalators have access and mobility issues associated with them and that it is not easy with a walking frame on cobble stones. They are also world heritage listed so it is not as though lifts and escalators could be installed without desecrating these sites. These issues were poorly dealt with by the boat's shore excursion staff. Those who suffered were the more mobile. If you have only 20 minutes to see something and it takes the person with mobility issues 10 minutes to get off the bus then you are impacted on adversely. I have to say there was one person where there was mobility issues and they were very responsible. They waited until everybody else was off the bus before getting off but this was the exception rather than the norm. There is also a problem with disembarking at ports. We were told that the Holland America groups would have priority in Nagasaki but when we got to the immigration hall it was full of independent travellers who had been let off the ship before us. It took about 40 minutes for us to get through immigration and it took the edge off the excursion before we even got on the bus. Disembarkation was also a bad experience. We waited 20 minutes in our bus for a rude traveller who did not care about their fellow travellers. There was no apology offered and apparently this traveller had 'form' for this type of behaviour. We stayed at the Imperial Hotel Osaka after disembarkation. This was arranged through Holland America. The Holland America staff in Osaka in contrast to the staff in the boat front office were very helpful and the hotel was also excellent. It was quite a contrast to the service on the boat. Australians do not believe in tipping and that is an issue that Holland America needs to address when selling cruises to Australians. The underlying philosophy in Australia, as often repeated in travel pages here, is that wages should be adequate to live on rather than having to depend on tips. It was not all negative on the boat. The service from the room attendant was superb. I have looked at the reviews since we have returned home and find myself in agreement with Independant and wonder whether the favourable reviewers travelled on the same boat. Maybe our expectations are higher. As you can see our issues were primarily with the service on the boat and as people who paid top dollar we were left somewhat underwhelmed. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
My first cruise on Holland America and my LAST Have done at least a dozen cruises with all companies and this was without a doubt the very worst. The food was dreadful, the photos on HALs website are certainly not from Volendam. Portion ... Read More
My first cruise on Holland America and my LAST Have done at least a dozen cruises with all companies and this was without a doubt the very worst. The food was dreadful, the photos on HALs website are certainly not from Volendam. Portion sizes are very small and most people ate in the Lido buffet - tell you anything? Cabin was spacious and very nice but one small cake of soap for 2 wks? ( had to buy soap ourselves) No hand cream so took a glass from the cabin and filled it with cream from the public toilets. Our toilet didn't work for 2 days so had to run up 2 floors to use a bathroom. Brown water coming through the taps on and off for the entire cruise (reception was so fed up with complaints!!) Had a flood in our cabin while we ashore. Had the smell of stinking wet carpet for a week and a huge big fan in cabin running night and day to dry it. Both of us had food poisoning from Room Service. Both started vomiting around an hour after eating the suspect hamburgers! Really slow embarkation, no one to show us our cabin on boarding. Have NEVER had my water bottle confiscated on boarding -we did here. Brought a bottle of champagne on board ( as per regulations) what we went through with recording it, signing for it and being abused over it! Even found those little plastic things you clean between your teeth with, from the past passenger on our dressing table when we arrived in cabin! Staff were grossly undertrained If you ordered a 4 glass carafe of wine you HAD TO HAVE 4 glasses even though there were two of you. It just went on and on. The ports were fabulous and we had a great time in port but NEVER NEVER NEVER book a trip on Volendam. Don't waste your money Princess would leave them for dead on ALL fronts. Wrote to HAL with all the above complaints and they replied that through the " isolated incidents" we still should have had a great time. FORGET IT, DON'T DO IT TO YOURSELF. There are heaps of cruise companies out there all competing for your $$$$ and who offer a memorable experience. We were advised by our cruise specialist to try HAL and from what I gather they used to be good. We were told we would never want to cruise with anyone else. NOT SO YOUVE LOST US HAL! Hated every minute onboard and have NEVER complained EVER on any other cruise. We're very easy to please. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
Any relationship is based on trust. After close to 200 days sailing with HAL, I expect that I will be treated with respect and the trust I put into the company to work in my best interest be upheld. I do not know how HAL will heal the ... Read More
Any relationship is based on trust. After close to 200 days sailing with HAL, I expect that I will be treated with respect and the trust I put into the company to work in my best interest be upheld. I do not know how HAL will heal the distrust I hold after this trip. I realize that Carnival, the "mother-ship" holds all the cards. But as an "almost" 4 Star Mariner, I will not be back on board for quite a while. I went through 4 cabins (Deck 2 forward... brown water; Deck 1 midship...vibrations; Deck 3 aft...a constant "thumping"; Deck 2 forward...brown water) before realizing the situation had no remedy on this cruise. The "GI" outbreak began about 4 days into the cruise (and must be noted that it was held in check by immediate attention).Though there was no handling of common items as newspapers and books, salt and pepper shakers, handshaking...the casino stayed open. Though the staff did disinfect the casino before and after operations, the cards, chips and slot machines were handled by any number of possibly contaminated people. I guess there is a price to the passenger's welfare! The cost of the HAL excursions are outrageous! I do not want to have my time in port wasted with stops at shopping areas / malls or restaurants.When there is a port with an extended stay (ie: into the evening, overnight as in Yangon), I do not want to be back on board by 4 or 5pm. Seeing a city at night is another experience of the visit. I understand the Excursion agents, using deception and "scare tactics", are to make money for the company, but, I believe, the Shore Desk agent should be working for the guest. Withholding information that would make the shore time of guests easier (and less expensive) is, I feel, wrong. (ie: there is a train that goes from Port Klang to KL for about $1.25, available city maps for other than shopping centers, going to a port in Cambodia, having paid the $63 visa fee and being too far from anything of interest (Angor Wat or Phnom Penh). The cruise director, Jonathan, was the WORST in the position I have ever experienced on HAL's or any other company's ship. His closing was "see you around the ship" but you never, ever did! He had no communication with guests, no sense of humor. He was obnoxious, selfish and very, very arrogant! Tom, in the piano bar, could play the piano and sing (a bit). But he had NO personality. He basically played with his head down with no interaction with those in the room. He had no flair, no fun banter or musical "games" / jokes. There were no sing-alongs unless the guests took it upon themselves to sing (the hundredth time he would play his "My Fair Lady" medley). The Front Office staff tries to be helpful but their hands are tied by company policy (I was "subtly" warned my third room was not suitable but didn't heed the warning). The restaurant, deck and cabin staff were always up-beat and friendly. Chase, the assistant social director (though not given that title) did a Herculean job of lifting spirits. He was incredibly kind, cheery with a good sense of humor, thorough and available. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
I just backed my cruising from Hong Kong-Vietnam-Cambodia-Thailand-Singapore for 15 days by m/s Volendam-Holland America Line. This is my first time for Holland America Line. So, I was so excited before we cruised with Holland American ... Read More
I just backed my cruising from Hong Kong-Vietnam-Cambodia-Thailand-Singapore for 15 days by m/s Volendam-Holland America Line. This is my first time for Holland America Line. So, I was so excited before we cruised with Holland American Line. Before that I have experience with Cunnard, Princess and Royal Carribean even Star Cruise. 1. No entertainment all the time even at sea. 2. Cruise Director always disappeared. 3. HAL Cats Band during show time they wouldn't show up on time and one day at poolside show, she said that she felt it's so hot and stop the show immediately and say good bye, Is it professional? 4. Food too salty, not the 4 star standard. 5. All restaurants menu are the same, never changed within 15 days. 6. So many flies flow over the Dining Room until we complaint, 7. Shore excursions are very expenses. 8. No free shuttle buses provided at port, except Cambodia due to Cambodia Tourist Association provided. 9. Visa fee overcharged than the other cruise, such as Vietnam Visa US$65, Princess only charged US$31. Cambodia Visa US$60, the other cruise only charged US$25. 10. Beware of it looks like as mobile cash Debit Machine, everything will charge to your room bill automatically, such as mini bar even you have not consumed. And they have charged me the Thailand Visa Fee(my nationality is no need to appy any visa in Thailand). I have to approach to Front Office to explain what nationality I am, and disputed the mini bar charges. So I have to check my room bill at Front Office daily to avoid they overcharged. 11. Toilet always clog. 12. One day in Vietnam, it was around 28C, The generator was out of order. No air conditioning, No Escalator, No flush water. 13. Sometimes, you need to inform room attendants to refill the amenities. But, the servers of the Lido Restaurant and Rotterdam Dining Room are good. Finally, consider before you take the HOLLAND AMERICA LINES. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
When we disembarked in Singapore I was ready to write a really nice review, then we disembarked (reason for the 1 star) The Food - I didn't take the cruise to eat, and basically the food was good, we had open seating so we were put ... Read More
When we disembarked in Singapore I was ready to write a really nice review, then we disembarked (reason for the 1 star) The Food - I didn't take the cruise to eat, and basically the food was good, we had open seating so we were put on the lower lever, and the first night was a zoo, but we believe that was due to the safety training at the lifeboat stations, so everything ran behind. Like other reviewers said...anything extra be prepared to pull out that card because it will cost you...we enjoyed eating at the Italian restaurant because of the small plates offered, and we enjoyed the pinnacle grill, it would have been better had they offered different daily menus. I enjoyed the spa, but I hate the sale pitch at the end, all I want was the spa treatments and not the products. Can't offer any insight on the shows, we didn't attended any. All of the staff we encountered was always nice and courteous (see end). Being on deck 7 we had access to the Neptune Lounge, and John C was a great Concierge and always so friendly and helpful. The excursions - Halong Bay we did he deluxe where lunch was included and it was fun. The islands were beautiful, the guy friendly and attempted to tell jokes, if you go on shore be prepared for girls on motor bikes to pull over and want to sell you pearls...which we bought for the grand girls (better than a t-shirt). Just go back and forth on $. We had private drivers in the other Vietnam locations because we're not big bus people and this was a return trip for my husband so it was special. THe one tour we did that wasn't from the ship was a country side and cooking class http://www.vietnamprivatetour.com great great tour, and it was less than other tour cost, plus it was so much fun, Big bus tour in Cambodia, just be prepared it's a 3rd world country, there are little children smiling and saying money but they are clueless to what they are asking for. Unlike our brats that cry because they don't have, or they need...they looked fine happy and dirty because they don't know what they don't have. If you don't want to see this, then don't go...if you want to educate yourself and want to make a difference someday, then go! We did go to the pepper plantation which was interesting. also big bus to Thailand, and pretty much it was what we expected. Departing in Singapore, easy.....But then my nightmare. My fault I know it, but when getting ready I got distracted and then the call came for us to depart. I left my ring, necklace and bracelet on the table. As soon as I cleared customs I realized it. Ran back thru security had to have an escort back on board, in tears ran in to the suite and in less than 30 minutes time - they were gone! GONE, I was sobbing, tore the room apart went and got John, told him the 2 guys that came in the room to clean balcony as we left, about the guy that was in the room when I ran back in (he came to get breakfast tray). My 2 days in Singapore was miserable, my ring which I just got for Christmas, my priceless necklace that my deacsed dad had given me back in the 70's gone. They did a 2 week investigation and were sorry to inform me it had not be found. So no matter how nice, helpful or whatever - it doesn't matter. I would have gone on another Holland vessel, but never again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
Stayed at Langham Place in Hong Kong prior to cruise for two days, really nice hotel great service and handy to shops etc. First sight of Zaandam and we thought what have we done as its more than showing its age, first part of check in ... Read More
Stayed at Langham Place in Hong Kong prior to cruise for two days, really nice hotel great service and handy to shops etc. First sight of Zaandam and we thought what have we done as its more than showing its age, first part of check in was a breeze but then deteriorated into a free for all to get on board when boarding was announced.No organization just people every where. Once on ship we went to stateroom, four star ship had cracked sink in bathroom, torn valance that stayed on bed the whole cruise even after being pointed out to members of staff, the whole stateroom was tatty, and to top it all off the air conditioner didn't work either really hot, or really cold. Food is subjective and we choose to eat in Lido and the food was always either lukewarm or cold, even after pointing this out to chef no improvement, plus quality has dropped dramatically since we last sailed with Holland. Ports of call Shanghai we missed altogether because of fog,Beijing we did a two day private tour which was great, but there was a debacle over passports with the ship letting people off knowing they needed there passports for hotels,but no information given out. Korea was fine, but once again confusion as they said shuttles would be available when we got ashore none. Overall we paid a premium price for a four star cruise that should be rated two at most,will be complaining to Holland America. Oh nearly forgot they don't change smoke detectors batteries till they go off, so we had screeching noise one night rang reception no answer, so went to front desk who sent some one up to remove battery, this was going on all over the ship. We will never sail with them again. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
Ship - Internally and externally TIRED. Food - repetitive after first 14 days. Second 14 days food portions in Rotterdam greatly reduced and service also went downhill. Cabin - tired and desperate for re-fit. Bedding needs replacing ... Read More
Ship - Internally and externally TIRED. Food - repetitive after first 14 days. Second 14 days food portions in Rotterdam greatly reduced and service also went downhill. Cabin - tired and desperate for re-fit. Bedding needs replacing asap. Many had air con/heating problems. Main complaints: Ship Freezing for the first 14 days - 13 degrees C. in restaurant - had to wear jackets whenever we went about ship. Management seemed totally incapable in dealing with immigration issues at certain ports, it appeared as though this was a first time experience for them. We never got to Shanghai - sat at sea for a day and a half in 'fog' then told we were going to Shanghai but when we got up next morning realised we were going north!! Beijing - were sent ashore with only passport copies - HAL refused to give us our passports despite being told we were staying in Beijing. Ended up being refused to check in at hotel as we did not have our passports. Tried to resolve this by various telephone calls but ship staff totally unhelpful. Ended up waiting in freezing cold -5 degrees C for first train and taxi back to ship where we received half hearted apology. Never went back as it took us 24 hours to get over the trauma. Guest relations manager would not meet to discuss problems. This totally ruined our holiday as we only booked the first 14 day cruise so that we could visit Beijing and Shanghai. Ship Captain - he made very few announcements - only ship's position and weather every day - never saw him around ship. Cabin and restaurants staff - excellent, shame management did not take some training from them!!! Shore excursions - far too expensive. Entertainment - Third rate - apart from occasional visiting artist. Had much better on other cruise lines. Overall Opinion. Our holiday was totally ruined by the Beijing passport debacle. Not at all impressed by HAL. We were told before we booked that they were the best (5*) I would suggest 2* was a better description. Never again will we go HAL. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
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