Amsterdam - South Pacific: Amsterdam Cruise Review by Karl Reitter

Amsterdam 1
Karl Reitter

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Amsterdam - South Pacific

Sail Date: January 2006
Destination: South Pacific
Embarkation: San Diego
When boarded the Amsterdam on Jan. 6, 2006 in San Diago at about 12:30pm. The boarding process was fluid and well organized. As the cabins were not ready we went up to the Lido Restaurant for lunch. At about 3:00pm we were able to access our cabin #1804 on the Dolphin deck. As this is a handicapped cabin it was very roomy and well laid out. The first thing we noticed was the deodorant smell. The next thing was that the whole cabin stank of cigarette smoke. As I suffer from congestive heart failure, breathing in such stinky air was a burden. The pillows smelled like ashtrays. I spend a terrible night and the next morning made a written complaint about the condition to the front desk. They placed an ozone generator in the cabin for eight (8) hours. We were advised to stay out of the cabin The also replaced the pillows and yhe shower curtain as I had requested. The second night conditions were better. On the third day, we noticed an acrid smell in the cabin - somewhat like burned wiring More insulation. My spouse saw the maintenance staff having a panel off just outside of our cabin and inquired what the problem was. She was told that there was a problem with rats. When we returned to our cabin at about 10:30pm the acrid smell was still very much present. We kept our cabin door open for about an hour and as there was a very strong exhaust fan in the bathroom, we kept the door to the bathroom open. Next day we registered again a complained with the front office as our complains to our cabin steward regarding the lack of fresh and breathable air in our cabin received no corrective response. On day five the shampooed the carpet in our cabin and after the medicine like small subsided we were finally able to have reasonable fresh air in the cabin by keeping the door to the bathroom open day and night.

We took this cruise together with my in-laws. However while we booked through an internet travel agency, they had booked directly with HAL. We asked for and were assigned early dining at 6:15pm. They had been assigned main dining at 8:30pm. We went to see the Maitre D' on our first day on board and requested to have an assigned diner seating together. I stressed that it needs to be early. The next day we were assigned dining at 8:00pm - I guess as far as my in-laws were concerned it was "early". We tried it for three nights and when I found out that it was too late for me to eat, we took our dinner at the Lido restaurant for the rest of the cruise.

On January 17 at noon I went to the Lido Restaurant for lunch. I stood in line and when I came to the Italian serving station, I told the server that I wanted some spaghetti with meat sauce. The server picked up a plate, picked up the tongs and started to grab some spaghetti. He suddenly dropped the tongs in the spaghetti tray, placed the plate back on the counter and walked to the serving station Oriental behind me, when I turned around I found a ship's officer with three gold bars on his shirt standing behind me and the server was serving him some Chinese food. For the first times in my life I was speechless. While I realize that with three gold bars the ships officer is high up on the totem pole, never the less, I was in front of him and I should have been served first.

We took our breakfast, consisting of orange juice, coffee and a Danish pastry, in our cabin every morning. On the third day of our voyage my spouse asked the cabin steward to put a fresh banana in our fruit basket every day. He told her that he could not get any bananas. We retrieved a banana every day at the lunch or breakfast buffet so that we could have it in the morning. When I realized that I could order some sliced bananas with our morning breakfast order I included bananas in our standing order. Although they were not entirely fresh they did provide a satisfactory substitute

One day we found some sticky substance and two black hairs on the plate with our breakfast. The next day we were given a cracked coffee cup and had to place tissue under the cup to absorb the coffee leakage. Obviously a result of lack of attention to detail. I put in a written complaint with the customer service desk and such events did not happen again.

One evening we (my spouse and my in-laws) as usual were at dinner at the Lido restaurant. My spouse and I usually arrived first and my in-laws joined us subsequently. I had ordered and been served a bottle of Grolsch beer. My brother-in-law wanted one also. We told one steward. About twenty minutes later, as there had been no response to his request, he told another steward. When the alcoholic beverage server finally arrived at our table about 30 minutes after the first request, my brother-in-law had finished his meal and did not need any service.

We live on the outskirts of Las Vegas and are frequent visitors to various restaurants and buffets in Las Vegas. When we visit these establishments, we are served a glass of water when we get to the table and whenever the glass is ¼ or less full, it is promptly refilled. At the Lido restaurant, we got a glass of water at the begin of our dinner, however, to get a refill was almost impossible and it was more then once that we had to get up to get a water refill ourselves. I observed that service staff was just standing around, engaged in conversation with other service staff. Maybe HAL service policy is to ensure that customers get some exercise by getting there own water refills?

HAL claims that it provides exceptional service. Based on our most recent experience on the HAL Amsterdam, I suggest that this is a misnomer and it should be exceptionable service.

This was our fifth cruise within a year. Our first cruise was on the Oosterdam along the mexican coast. We were so impressed by the service we received that we promptly booked another trip with the Oosterdam from Seattle to Alaska in May. Again, the service was excellent and it was a very pleasurable cruise. In June we went on a 10 day cruise on the NCL Norwegian Wind around Hawaii. The accommodations and service were excellent but the quality of food was not as good as we found on the Oosterdam. In November we took a 14 day cruise through the Panama Canal with Celebrity on the Summit. Accommodations, food and service were excellent. In fact they were even better then what we had received on the Oosterdam, which is a hard act to trump.

Of all five cruises the one on the Amsterdam was the worst. Unfortunately it also was the longest in duration - 30 days. We assume that the lack of service we experienced on the Amsterdam is the exception rather then the rule as to what HAL has to offer. We booked another cruise with HAL - Zaandam in May to Alaska and hope that our assumption is correct. Less

Published 03/15/06

Cabin review: G1804 Large Ocean-View Stateroom

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