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Veendam Cruise Review
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
815 Reviews

Panama Canal is Great HAL is not so much

Veendam Cruise Review by manoabob

0 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Oct 2013
  • Destination: the Panama Canal & Central America

To start with I want to let you know, until recently HAL was my wife and mine favorite cruise line. We are both 4 star and over the last 45 years I have been at sea for over 1200 days. The following applies to all the HAL ships we have sailed on in the past few years.

In the last few years I have noticed significant changes with HAL. They are shifting to a more cut-rate cruise line (like Carnival). They are cutting back at every corner in both services and also ship maintenance and it shows. They have cut back on staff and the poor kids are simply worn out and exhausted (like most of their ships). There were very few officers visible and when you do see one, they do not acknowledge the passengers at all.

The food in the main and specially dining rooms is still good to very good but once again the service personnel are overworked and have to work even if they are sick. On one of our last cruises (90 days) it seemed like everyone on board came down with a cold. As the crew came down with the same cold they still had to work which spread the condition back to the passengers for a second round. Of the 90 days on board both my wife and I felt miserable for 30 days. On nights we did not want to eat in the dining room the Lido had the port side half of the serving area closed for officers and crew, which reduced half of the seating, making finding a table very difficult. The line and wait for food took close to ½ hour. On several occasions I have received dirty silverware in the Lido. If you want good service you have to eat in the specialty dining rooms. It cost an additional $25 per head but the service is exceptional (like it used to be in the main dining room). HAL had a reputation as not being a "nickel and dime" cruise line but that is all changing (for example, it now cost for espresso in the main dining room during dinner).

The ships are not being maintained like the used to. On one ship half of the showroom at sea had to be closed off whenever it rained as the water would drip from the overhead. On another ship the same thing took place in the Lido. As a result both ships always had musty/moldy smell.

I have taken photos of rust, leaking pipes, broken cableways and general lack of routine maintenance and sent them to HAL. The only time I got an answer was when I pointed out what I thought was a minor safety hazard. They did reply that their ships were always maintained in a safe condition and that they took safety very seriously. They did not address the specific condition I had brought up.

The entertainment is OK but repetitive on longer cruises.

To sum it all up: Quality has gone way down, ships conditions have gone down, HAL staff has been cut and is now overworked and service is not what you would expect, HAL is becoming a “nickel and dime” line, and is NOT the same Holland America we once knew.

All that said the Panama Canal is fantastic. A must do.

In my opinion "Even a bad day at sea is better than a good day on a golf course"

manoabob's Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Cabin is a good size and has lots of stowage space. Everything worked but only one electrical plug for charging. No major complaints. Interior cabins are usually less noisy, cooler and darker for good sleeping.

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