We were in Cabin 7004, Neptune Suite. To begin with the cabin was tired and worn, dirty furniture on the veranda, only one electrical outlet in the entire cabin (they confiscated our brand new compliant outlet strip at check in, gave us an ... Read More
We were in Cabin 7004, Neptune Suite. To begin with the cabin was tired and worn, dirty furniture on the veranda, only one electrical outlet in the entire cabin (they confiscated our brand new compliant outlet strip at check in, gave us an old battered one) the laminate on the vanity was peeling off, the floor in the bathroom was buckled and the tiles were missing grout. Old and outdated room with old box and hose hairdryer. The tub had a large crack in it patched with a different color material (the did serve notice that this would be corrected on one of the Hawaii port days). While the cabin steward and MDR staff were excellent, the Pinnacle Grill was absolutely awful We waited 30 minutes for our 8pm reservation when the restaurant was almost empty, this was day 3. Tables were not cleaned or bussed, we sat around tables with dirty linen, glasses, napkins and plates not removed, during the entire meal. Waitstaff was clueless and disorganized. They came after 10 minutes of just sitting there to take our order when we hadn't even gotten menus or ordered drinks yet. We had to continually ask 2 and 3 times for things, service was poor. On the LeCirque night (second one, toward the end of the cruise) the manager came over and asked how everything was and I pointed out once again all of the unbussed, uncleared tables, he went into a long apology telling us about how he was new, and used to being on a bigger ship, had a new staff, had staff out sick etc. OK well maybe that was the situation in the first several days, but this was 2 weeks later, one would think you would get it right by then. We also had to wait to be seated that night. As suite guests we had our breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill, again, very disappointing, terrible service, orders wrong, had to ask multiple times for things and though we would arrive 30 minutes prior to the closing, they rushed to take our order telling us the kitchen was closing.
The cruise was very disorganized. In the past on HAL, when we arrived, all of the invitations for cocktail parties, lunches, travel agent gifts etc. were all in our cabin. We arrived to find only one Pinnacle Dinner and One Canaletto Dinner (both booked for embarkation day that evening) these were the comps from the Explore 4 package. Since we had 10 sea days we wanted to book things like spa, cooking classes etc. and wanted to know when the advertised things such as suite cocktail party with ships officers would be held so as not to double book. The concierge had no record of these and said they don't do those anymore. I pointed out how this was advertised as a perk for suite guests. We asked about gifts from our travel agent and he had no record of these, in fact they tried to pass off the Pinnacle Grill and Canaletto dinners from the Explore 4 package as gifts from the travel agent. I emailed my agent and it took them 4 days to get it sorted out. The complimentary beverage package was a disaster. Now there is not a separate card but goes on your ships ID card. All throughout the cruise we were constantly in the office dealing with charges for drinks that were supposed to be included in the package. The final bill was still not correct and was so confusing and convoluted that is was pages and pages and we still would up paying for drinks that were supposed to be included in the package. Apparently the suite cocktail party was overlooked and a hastily thrown together suite lunch where the captain and the hotel manager made a brief appearance was substituted. It was in the Pinnacle Grill and the manager again came over to tell us his woes and how he only had 2 days notice to put this together. The cooking classes were supposedly overbooked, but 8 of the guests were double booked and the names were spelled wrong and confirmation notices did not arrive, mass confusion again.
We did happen to meet with the hotel manager and he totally agreed that our experiences were out of line. A guest should never be given any excuses.
As far as dining, while the food was good, in the MDR portions were sparse. Vegetables now are a garnish. A small portion of protein (less that 3-4 oz.) was accompanied by one piece of asparagus or one broccoli floret or a small slice of carrot and one small little round potato or piece of potato or a thimble full of rice. Portions were all small and disappointing. Room service was very slow, orders were often incorrect and the supposed offer of evening hors'doeuvres was almost nonexistent. There were lots of repeats in the menus and many similar dishes. We took our lunch most of the time in the MDR because the chaos of the Lido and the overcrowding and dodging wheelchairs, canes, walkers and the like, along with people who were not eating but occupying tables playing cards etc.
On the plus side, concierge service was good and the Neptune lounge has a good selection of items. The Dive in and most bar service was good. Although we learned from being on the Amsterdam last year to tip the bar staff, otherwise you wait and are ignored.
The worst issue was toward the end of the cruise on Saturday, there was an emergency announcement. (This new system of several alerts is most confusing) Apparently there was smoke detected in the forward bow thruster room. The situation was well handled and we were kept informed, the captain was on the scene almost immediately. They dispensed fire teams and evacuated the staff decks forward. Everyone remained calm. They were puzzled because there was no active fire, but smoke was present. As it turned out, there was ongoing maintenance on a fuel tank and a cover was left off which let out terrible fumes, detected as smoke. For several days the entire front of the ship was filled with noxious odor. We became sickened and missed out on many activities because of spending time in our cabin, feeling ill. Apparently caused by carelessness.
While most of the crew were attentive, it seemed like they were just going through the motions and checking off the box. Things like the Indonesian Tea, the Dutch High Tea and similar events were not at all what we were used to. They were held but except for some decorations and a title, not really anything different than any other tea. Disappointing selection of food and we ere rushed through, refills on tea or food were difficult to come by. The staff seemed overwhelmed by the numbers of people attending. The formal nights are now replaced by "gala" nights. The dress was most appalling, apparently people just ignore the dress codes and almost no one dresses anymore, another disappointment. Only 3 gala nights with 10 sea days on a 17 night cruise was disappointing. The dress codes were not enforced anywhere not in the MDR or the Pinnacle Grill.
I have traveled and cruised extensively, (Cunard diamond member) my cruise companion summed it up best: "Last year on the 14 day Alaska cruise on the Amsterdam, it was a wonderful experience, so much so that it made me want to go again. Had this been my first cruise, I would not have booked a second."
We booked a Canada/New England cruise for next year but will definitely cancel and try another line. HAL has disappointed us and lowered their standards to the point of paying $20,000 for a cruise, we can do better, much better. Read Less